WASHINGTON — The United States will move approximately 3,000 service members to Romania, Poland and Germany in response to Russia's continuing build-up of forces on its western border with Ukraine and in Belarus, Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby said today during a news conference.
The move demonstrates America's commitment to the defense of NATO allies, Kirby said. Russian President Vladimir Putin has deployed a full range of military capabilities on its western border. While U.S. officials still believe Putin has not made up his mind to invade Ukraine again, he certainly has the capabilities needed to do so, the press secretary said.
"The current situation demands that we reinforce the deterrent and defensive posture on NATO's eastern flank," Kirby said. "President [Joe] Biden has been clear that the United States will respond to the growing threat to Europe's security and stability. Our commitment to NATO Article Five and collective defense remains ironclad."
Kirby stressed these deployments are prudent and temporary and done in consultation with European allies. He stressed that the forces are not going to fight in Ukraine. "They're going to ensure the robust defense of our NATO allies," he said.
He said these deployments are in addition to the prepare-to-deploy orders Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III gave to 8,500 service members last month. Those troops are not involved in this movement.
Kirby said a 1,000-member Army Stryker squadron will deploy to Romania from Germany. They will join roughly 900 U.S. service members already in that country. "This force is designed to deter aggression and enhance our defensive capabilities in frontline allied states," he said. The troops will begin moving out in a couple of days. The deployment is at the express invitation of the Romanian government.
The United States is also sending about 2,000 troops from Fort Bragg, North Carolina to Europe in the next few days, Kirby said. "The 82nd Airborne Division is deploying components of an infantry brigade combat team and key enablers to Poland, and the 18th Airborne Corps is moving a joint-task-force-capable headquarters to Germany," he said. "Collectively, this force is trained and equipped for a variety of missions to deter aggression and to reassure and to defend our allies. Not surprisingly, we work very closely with our Polish and German allies to set the stage for these movements, and we absolutely appreciate their support."
The situation in the region is fluid and the United States will continue to review force posture, "and we will make adjustments as the situation warrants," Kirby said.
The United States is not the only nation beefing up troop presence in the front-line states. Kirby noted French President Emmanuel Macron also announced sending units to Romania and that Spain, Denmark, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands are also consulting with allies to deploy forces to reinforce NATO's eastern flank.
The United States already has "robust capabilities" in Europe with about 80,000 troops. The U.S. forces join hundreds of thousands of European service members to defend the continent. "We stand united," Kirby said. "These movements are unmistakable signals to the world that we stand ready to reassure our NATO allies to deter and defend against any aggression."
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